Female giant panda Bao Bao arrived at her new home in China’s southwestern province of Sichuan, after leaving the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, where she was born.
Following a 16-hour flight in a FedEx crate, she received a warm welcome late on Wednesday from fans wearing panda masks at the Dujiangyan Base of China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP).
Bao Bao stood on her hind legs to sniff the walls of her 40-square-metre (431-square-foot) cage, before tucking into a meal of bamboo shoots.
She will be quarantined there for a month before meeting visitors, said base director Wei Rongping, as officials make efforts to accustom her to her new home.
Born on August 23, 2013, Bao Bao shot to international stardom as the “panda cam” at the National Zoo documented her birth and childhood for millions of fans worldwide.
The National Zoo said her return was in line with an agreement with the Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association. It requires that panda cubs born at the zoo be sent to China by the age of four, for breeding and research purposes.
Bao Bao is the offspring of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, the National Zoo’s second pair of giant pandas, loaned from China in 2000.
The Zoo received its first pair of giant pandas in 1972 as a gift from the Chinese government to commemorate a landmark visit by President Richard Nixon.